Zach Braff has let go of feeling hurt by Garden State haters

Zach Braff has found beauty in the breakdown, saying he has gotten used to criticisms over his debut feature, Garden State.

Despite cracking a number of year-end best-of lists and earning an Independent Spirit Award, Zach Braff’s directorial debut Garden State has its share of detractors. Now, nearly 20 years after making a mark on the indie scene, Braff is facing the criticism, showing he’s ready to let go (let go).

Speaking with The Independent, Zach Braff said of the Garden State hate, “I just feel lucky that I get to make stuff. I can’t really dwell on it. Anyone who’s ever got a bad grade on an essay from a teacher can relate – just imagine it was out there in public, you know?” He added, “No one said being a creative person was easy, but you have to be vulnerable and authentically yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point?…Your skin gets tougher. When you’re young, you’re very vulnerable. But I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. You get used to it.”

The primary criticism of Garden State is that many pinned it as a vanity project for Zach Braff, who not only directed, but also wrote and starred in. In between the needle drops of The Shins, Iron & Wine and more, it does play like a sort of male fantasy, where the “manic pixie dream girl” (Natalie Portman) rescues the protagonist. “I was a very depressed young man who had this fantasy of a dream girl coming along and saving me from myself…And so I wrote that character.” Some have even perceived Braff’s past relationship with Florence Pugh—twenty years his junior—as an elaboration on the theme.

Other than Garden State, Zach Braff has helmed a number of other features (including the Kickstarted Wish I Was Here), in addition to episodes of Scrubs, Ted Lasso and Shrinking. His latest feature, A Good Person, hits theaters on March 24th. Similar to Garden State, that movie also hits a personal note for Braff. “I was just overcome with not only experiencing grief myself, but experiencing how the people closest to the grief were able to stand back up after the tragedy…And so that’s what I really wanted to write about.”

Do you think Garden State deserves the hate? Or do you think it’s a good movie? Give us your take in the comments section below.

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